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Shake Hands With Danger

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Shake Hands With Danger

Published ca. 1970s

Safety film about dangers associated with earthmoving equipment operation, showing many great simulated accidents on construction sites. CONTENT ADVISORY: May be frightening and surprising to some viewers, and contains great country-style song by a Johnny Cash-soundalike.

Run time 23:07
Producer Centron Productions
Sponsor Caterpillar Tractor Company
Audio/Visual Sd, C


Color faded to yellowish/brown.
Great title song, country-style.
Safety film about dangers associated with earthmoving equipment operation.
Many great simulated accidents on construction sites. May be frightening and surprising to some viewers.
Earthmover sideswipes a house Ð shot from both inside and outside house.
ÒProfessional stuntmen were used to re-create and dramatize actual accidents.Ó



Reviewer: ninelivecat - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 23, 2009
Subject: Good Film
This film may be old but it's as relevant today as it was when it was made always give machinery and equipment the respect they deserve when working with them
Reviewer: KFCiscool - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 6, 2009
Subject: Well done!
Bob had sense enough to be careful even though he had an accident. Anyway, I like this program. Too bad the other guys weren't lucky!
Reviewer: tmvogel - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 25, 2009
Subject: That's enough shaking hands with danger
For those who think this would be a good short for MST3K, someone must've listened. The RiffTrax team (Nelson, Corbett, Murphy) did a live riffing of this dreadful short tonight at Comic-Con.

They need to come back every year and do this. So, so funny.
Reviewer: seans_182 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 14, 2009
Subject: Shake Hands With Danger!
I was enrolled in a Heavy Duty Mechanics course in Northern Canada that was partially sponsored by Caterpillar. Believe it or not, they were still showing this video to us, not even a year ago!
Reviewer: Killerhand - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 13, 2009
Subject: 70s Horror film
I can't get enough of this kind of film! God help me. It works as kitsch and time capsule. It's a real candidate for "Mystery Science Theatre 3000" deconstruction. In fact MST3K has done a lot of Centron shorts and other corporate-produced workplace-safety films (the Union Pacific ones really stand out in my memory).

I suppose they were helpful in promoting safety awareness but one thing I've noticed about these kinds of company-made safety films is that these media are a kind of corporate propaganda. The worker is always the one at fault; management or the company itself are never depicted as negligent.

I'm grateful for the comments of the reviewer who was the former Centron employee, which provides essential background. The fact that "Carnival of Souls" director Herk Harvey was directing this explains the lurid and tense horror movie tones here, which is more unsettling than just mere gore...grievous injury or kills are served up as entertainment. It's an interesting contrast because Harvey's "Carnival of Souls", for which he'll be remembered, is gore and violence-free -- more like an angst-suffused Twilight Zone episode.

Take off a star for some tediousness and cheapness, it'd surely get 5 stars as an MST3K short though!
Reviewer: noisepuppet - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 25, 2008
Subject: He fell own his haid
At least he didn't hurt nothin' important! HAW! Great film of the thinking-impaired going about the business of debilitating themselves in creative ways. OSHA's going to want a word with this company.
Reviewer: clr2sea - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 17, 2008
Subject: Superb Work Scare Film
Fantastic! I had no idea there were so many incredibly dramatic ways to get bumped off at your local construction site. And dig that song...I love it!
Reviewer: scooterfox - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 17, 2007
Subject: Classic
On top of it being a great film, Jim Stringer has recently added the song into his repertoire sometimes when he plays here in Austin.

Reviewer: Mr. Musselman - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 2, 2007
Subject: Great Video
I've loved this video since I first seen it in Missouri. It's got all the greats, Chuck Hammlin, Harry Sanders, Glenn Greenwood. They're all legally retarded, but they're with the union, so I guess they must know what they're doing. I love Glenn Greenwood's buddie's reaction time to his injury, he is all over it. Shake hands with danger, friends are injured over yonder, I could help them out, or I could sing my one hit wonder, der der der der der der.
Reviewer: 23_skidoo - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 24, 2007
Subject: Shake Hands with Danger!
On this website, Centron are best-known for their educational social guidance films. But since the early '50s, they had also regularly produced industrial films and sales films for various corporations and associations: University of Kansas, Spencer Chemical Co., Kansas Industrial Development Commission, American Medical Association, Conoco, Monsanto, Western Auto Supply, Cessna, AC Delco, General Motors, U.S. Department of Health, Phillips 66, Mott Foundation, John Deere, Caterpillar Tractor, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, the Republic of Korea, and many others. I've seen many of these films and I think many people on this website would enjoy them, but unfortunately few of them are in the public domain. This film, "Shake Hands with Danger," is an example of many safety films Centron produced for Caterpillar in the late '70s and early '80s.

What makes this one special is that they decided to write an original country-western song to go with the film and that they used professional stuntmen from Hollywood to do the stunts. The film was widely-distributed among construction and engineering classes, and was extremely well-received. It was the most award-winning industrial film of 1980, according to "Educational Screen": "'Shake Hands with Danger' was one of only four American-made films selected as official U.S. entries in the 21st International Industrial Film Festival in Copenhagen, Denmark. It won the first-place Gold Cup Award in the category of Safety Education Films, marking only the second time in 10 years that an American film received a first prize at this particular international event. Additional recognition came to the film through a Blue Ribbon Award at the American Film Festival of New York, a Gold Camera Award at the U.S. Industrial Film Festival, a Golden Eagle Award at CINE of Washington, a Chris Statuette at the Columbus Film Festival, a silver plaque at the International Film and TV Festival of New York and designation as the best public education film by the Public Relations Society of America."

If you have half an hour to kill, I would definitely recommend watching this film. The music, the gravel-voiced narrator (Charlie Oldfather, who was a professor of law at the University of Kansas after whom the KU film school is now named), and the fact that each time something's about to happen, you don't know whether it will be deadly or just a close call, makes this a must-see. They don't seem to do safety films like this anymore. And now my usual informative crew-listing, from Centron's production records: the film was produced by Art Wolf and Russ Mosser, directed by Herk Harvey, and written by John Clifford, with photography by John English and Bob Rose, sound by Jim Stringer, and editing by Stephanie Murray. Jim Stringer and John Clifford wrote the theme song and other music, with narrator Oldfather doing the singing. As a note, this film was one of the last great triumphs of Centron. Due to the shift from film to video technology, and due to the fact that the founders and original employees of the company were nearing retirement age, Centron would soon fold within a few years, selling out to Coronet in Chicago. But we still have all the old films we can watch. Highly recommended!
Reviewer: Deb-The Pop Culture Fan - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 29, 2007
Subject: The Song is Great!
Enjoyed it. . .
Reviewer: ega278 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 25, 2007
Subject: Still used for military heavy equipment operator school
I'm a former active duty Marine and I went through heavy equipment operator school at Fort Leonardwood Missouri in early 2000. They showed us many videos when we had classroom knowledge time and this was one of the videos they showed us. We joked about the bad acting and the situations but the lessons in the video actually make it a pretty effective training tool.
Reviewer: Arturo Nicholls - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 13, 2007
Subject: Safety First
Definetly a must to be seen for anybody whom works in the construction, Quarring or mining industries. The incidents recorded in the video are only a small example of what people whom work in these industries are exposed to. The idea of course is to promote safty and try and instill in a person the need to continously evaluate each job so as to carry it out based on safty proceedures. I would use this video as a training tool. I do think that the music and voice though good for intertainment are not really adecuate for the seriousness of the objective of the video
Reviewer: autoguy - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 15, 2005
Subject: Do Not Apply
Film outlines the horrible failures of a badly mismanaged excavating company. A never ending comedy of errors demonstrates how poor hiring practices and lack of company planning makes profitable business an impossibility. Unfortunately, the actual company name is not revealed so viewers can be forewarned to NOT seek a job there. After all, it's more than clear they are always hiring. That's if they are still in business at ALL!
Reviewer: Real Kold War Kid - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 15, 2004
Subject: Love the music
The music and the voice of the narrator were the best parts of this movie. When the one fellow fell off the equipment, and I heard the guitar afterwards, it reminded me of movies like "Gator" and "White Lightning". I half expected to hear some Southern sheriff to say something like "Boy ain't into one-time larnin." Good stuff.
Reviewer: TwangGuru - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 29, 2004
Subject: I wrote that music!
I worked for Centron films between 1974 and 1985. In that time, we cranked out about 50-60 films a year. I wrote music, created sound-effects, did a little editing. Our client list included General Motors, US Navy, Deere & Co., Tenaco, and of course, the client for this film, Caterpillar Tractor. As industrial producers go, Centron was the renegade artist in the field. We shot on film, produced entirely in-house and tried our best with the subject at hand. Centron was the most honored producer of such films in the 1970's and even garnered one Academy Award nomination.

The film's director was Herk Harvey, best known as the director of the 1960's cult classic, "Carnival of Souls", which is now available on DVD in its uncut, totally goofy splendor. Herk was a memorable man and was loved by everyone... he died in the late 90's, but I think of him often.

I wrote the music and produced the tracks, as well as played guitar. The lyrics were written by my long time associate, John Clifford. He and I had sort of a jingle mill going for several years -- he'd write the lyrics, I'd write music and produce the jingle. John, who is in his mid-80's now, started his career writing jokes for Jimmy Durante and besides several novels, plays, etc., wrote the screen-play for "Carnival...Â

The "vocalist" was the late Charles Oldfather who was Dean of the University Of Kansas Law School for many years. The building which houses the KU film school is name after him, and is, in fact, the former site of Centron Films which closed its doors a few years after I left. Mr. Oldfather was a major country music junkie and is probably grinning in his grave over even a casual comparison to Johnny Cash.

Other players on the tracks include bassist Paul Miller who toured with jazz great Jay McShann during the 1980's, did a one year stint with the original Platters and continues to play professionally. Gary Mackender played drums -- Gary now lives in Tucson, AZ where he's an artist and plays accordion with the Carnivaleros. Mike Poholsky played pedal steel... he's the one player who has retired from the profession, opting to make money instead. Me... I'm in Austin, TX, still trying to eke out a living playing guitar, singing and writing songs, though I gave up film music and jingles shortly after leaving Centron in 1985. Look me up on the web sometime at "" to see what's shakin' these days!

--Jim Stringer
Reviewer: Steve Nordby - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 19, 2004
Subject: A quick road to trouble
Combine country music, earth moving equipment, big 1970's hair and cheesy sound effects, and this is what you get. They probably thought they knew their target market. Maybe they did. It shows what not to do and the messy results, which probably kept the target audience entertained. But don't try this at home... trained professional stuntmen... Not quite bad enough to get 5 stars.
Reviewer: apwoodr - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 8, 2004
Subject: A Classic!
I remember this safety film from my shop classes in high school. Every year we watched it and everyone looked forward to it. Yeah, it's a little bloody, but it at least it's entertaining and informative.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 13, 2003
Subject: A classic in every sense.
If you like your industrial films good and gory, like we all do, you'll be sure to enjoy this classic of Caterpillar (and we don't mean the insect) mishaps. Hands are crushed, bodies thrown, arms are burent, vehicles are smashed in every way possible, and while that is happening, The song, yes that song reverberates in and out. I can almost bet that sounds like Stompin' Tom Connors. While some people would be revolted by this kind of thing, call me sick, but I was laughing my butt off!
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 8, 2002
Subject: Shake Hands with Danger
This safety film for contruction maintenance workers is very well-made and looks like it might have been effective for its audience. Various repairmen working on big contruction equipment ignore safety rules and get into various mishaps, some close calls and some gory accidents. Instead of attributing these safety violations to the vague rubric of "carelessness" like so many other films, this film actually points out some of the psychosocial factors involved, such as machismo, overconfidence, pressure to get the job done fast by supervisors, and being distracted by troubles at home. The situations are quite believable and well-acted. The accidents are rather hard to watch because the gore is very realistic and you never know in any situation whether you're going to see a close call or somebody's hand being cut off or something. The film has a catchy country music theme song that will make you smile.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****. Also available on The Educational Archives, Vol. 4: On the Job.
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